It isn’t the first time that someone’s stumbled into the emergency room just as Clint’s making his exit. He’s a good guy, yeah, but he’s also a nurse so he sees enough sick and injured people everyday for it to take a lot to throw him into his “savior mode”, as his supervisor likes to call it. The girl limping through the doors with a split lip, black eye, and hands covering a stomach that’s bleeding through her fingers? Okay, she’s more than enough, actually. In fact, he prides himself on his quick recovery time as he rushes to brace an arm around her shoulders when her limping towards the front desk almost turns into stumbling towards the front desk.
“S’okay,” she slurs, mouth immediately lifting into an apologetic grin. “Don’t wanna cut anybody. I can wait.” He almost laughs. It’s a very nice gesture from a woman bleeding out in the ER.
“Nah, they won’t mind. It’s a slow night anyway.” Two of the world’s biggest lies, but Mr. Broken Penis two seats over wasn’t going to have a good night even if he did get to see a doctor before Ms. Rapidly Leaning More and More Heavily Into His Side Almost Like She Was--- oh shit.
“Not again,” she groans, and just like that she’s dead weight and he’s yelling for assistance STAT.
Emergency surgery goes surprisingly well, as does finding someone to cover his morning shift the next day, and Clint knows waiting for the mystery woman to come out of the OR is worth it when she finally starts to wake up. Call him sentimental, or maybe just a dick, but watching patients slowly navigate their drug induced stupor is something he never gets tired of. No one speaks more truth than when they’re high on pain meds and anesthesia.
He runs through all the necessary questions, something that one of the late shift nurses is more than grateful for. To him, it’s a win-win. Margot gets to grab a quick coffee, he gets to hear what he’s sure is gonna be some seriously funny shit, and he isn’t disappointed by a Ms. Laura Mitchell. Not that that explains why when she finally tells him with an almost knowing smile that he’s “way cuter than her usual nurses” he blushes pink. She slips back to sleep soon after, and the whole walk home he keeps telling himself how funny his new patient was. Wasn’t she funny, Clint?
He sleeps the next day away, after all he deserves it after filling almost two shifts, and Lucky definitely enjoys the impromptu lazy day. Lazy days are the only times he’s allowed in the bed, well, aside from basically any other time, but Lucky’s not going to hold his master accountable for not being able to resist his puppy dog eyes. It’s such a good day that Clint takes his favorite pooch out for a slice (and definitely doesn’t wonder what Laura likes on her pizza as he makes his way there because that would be weird). It’s a good fucking day in a line of okay ones, and Clint starts to wonder about karma.
Which, he decides, must be complete bullshit as he ends his suddenly bad day with a bag of frozen peas over one eye. Honestly, as shitty of a person as he was in adolescence he still couldn’t have pickpocketed enough wallets off yuppies to deserve a landlord as fucking awful as his is. His neighbor’s one day late with her rent and Ivan’s cronies are tossing her furniture to the curb, and it’s not like Clint can just walk by it. No, he gets involved because Kerry’s a nice lady, and she’s not even home to stop them wrecking her place. One word (okay, plus a few choice ones) and they're throwing punches. Now, Clint’s no stranger to fights, but five to one is shitty odds for anyone. He wins, of course, because if his dad taught him anything it was how to stay standing after taking a hit, but he certainly feels it. At least Kerry has another week, and really he’s saved up enough money that he could probably cover it if she can’t. Still, fuck you, karma.
He feels it even more the next morning, and even knowing he won isn’t worth the explaining he gives his boss when the black eye he’s now sporting catches her eye. Lynne cuts him off with a disappointed look, which is honestly worse than anything she could actually say because his boss is a badass and he wants her to be impressed by his work instead of his bruised knuckles. For half a second he curses Barney for being such a good fucking brother and paying his way through school because people don’t have high expectations for street urchins, but he’s not an ungrateful prick so obviously the thought passes pretty quickly.
By the time he makes it to the nursing station he’s on his fourth cup of coffee and having a pretty nice pity party by himself as he licks his wounds, but the look in Helen's’ eyes as soon as she spots him sends a shiver down his spine. Helen’s the oldest nurse on their floor, and she had all but adopted him before he’d even finished his first round there. Usually he loves the old broad, especially when they’re exchanging teasing comments and the best gossip about the orderlies in the hospital, but moments like this remind him that just because he’s her favorite doesn’t spare him. He braces himself for a comment about his black eye, and she completely blindsides him. Helen no.
“Heard someone had a pretty eventful night in the ER,” the saucy minx purrs and even the tips of his ears go pink. Damn it. He’s about to spout off some lie about just being a good nurse, because obviously that's a good enough reason to stay for an extra shift just to make sure a new patient he’s never met before pulls through. It had nothing to do with how her slurred words were actually really fucking cute. He definitely wasn’t intrigued enough by a patient that he’d fallen asleep that first night trying to imagine her face without the bruises and blood. Of course, right as he’s about to present Helen with his steaming pile of bullshit there’s a beep from a monitor and his attention’s back on his actual, you know, job.
“Room 312 for you, lover boy,” his mentor says, sly smile now a full blown smirk good enough to rival even his.
Huffing something that sounds embarrassingly like “shut up” as he speed walks down the hall (totally not running) to a room he’s now sure must belong to a certain emergency surgery patient because Helen is a witch of some sort. Good witch? Bad witch? The jury’s out.
“That’s an impressive shiner,” the lump in the hospital bed pipes up as soon as he enters the room, and the cheeky smile on her lips coaxes a laugh past his before he can even start to feel embarrassed. “How’d you get it?”
“How’d you get yours?” Clint deflects with the smirk that won him “Nurse McSteamy” at a Christmas party that got a little too wild a few years ago, scanning her chart before finally looking back up at her. What he sees is striking, and for a second he wonders if he’s bitten off more than he can chew.
Her hair’s still slightly damp, loosely tucked into a braid looped over her shoulder, and obviously she’s pretty, maybe dangerously so with how easily it shines through bruises and cuts and scars he’s just now spotting this close. What makes him pause, though, is that there’s such a raw sureness in her dark eyes, something he used to see in himself in the early days. It’s a look he now realizes he’s lost in his years without desperation, but she tames it easily enough with a coy laugh.
“I’m James Bond,” she says, and she says it like a joke that he somehow still knows is the truth. Which is, of course, crazy, because she’s about his age and looks perfectly normal (well aside from the leather pants he had to go through to find her ID, but leather pants aren’t really a good enough reason to believe someone’s a spy). Plus, her accent sounds way too genuinely American. She’d be Jason Bourne if anything, but that, too, is fantastically not the point.
“Complete with the womanizing?” he says, and he says it like he knows it’s a joke while his brain’s doing mental gymnastics trying to figure out if he does. This time she laughs, big and loud and painful for someone who has stitches in her stomach but she doesn’t even flinch.
“Boys,” she giggles, shaking her head, entirely too comfortable in a hospital gown. It throws him again. James Bond would have to be comfortable in a hospital. Truth or joke? Joke or truth? “The most interesting part of being an international agent of espionage has to be the sex, right?” She only laughs harder when his traitorous ears start to go pink again. She laughs like she thinks it’s cute, or maybe he’s just hoping she does. “Womanizing. Manizing. It’s just really hard to keep a relationship when you’re this good looking and lethal. And, okay, mostly ‘cause you’re never home.”
“Understandable,” he agrees pseudo-sagely, trying to recover from the fact that she makes him feel like a dorky teenager again, which is especially annoying because he never actually felt this dorky as a teenager. He’d been way too “cool” and “tough” for that, the traveling bad boy with a weakness for dogs (okay, maybe not so cool after all). He tries to seem suave as he makes a few notes on her chart before setting it down and asking a few question about pain and sensation, all of which she answers without a second thought. Almost like she’s used to them. “We’ll change your dressing in four hours, and then we’ll probably remove it to let the incision breathe.” Laura nods like she knows the drill better than even he does, and he’s feeling just silly enough to turn his returned nod into an exit when---
“So,” she sounds out the two letters like she's giving him a hard time but her eyes are sparkling like he’s in on the joke, too. “How’d you get yours? You can’t leave me hanging. I'll think up a million stupid scenarios if you don’t tell me.”
“Oh, uh...” Reaching up to scratch the back of his head (which is actually kind of a nice view with his short-sleeved scrubs and hospital fitness club membership, not that he’s flexing or anything), Clint fumbles for a moment before giving up with a resigned sigh. At least he isn’t blushing. “I might have gotten into a fight?”
“Must have been more than one guy, or---” Laura winks and Clint tries very hard not to swoon. “Please don’t tell me you’re one of those gorgeously buff guys who can’t take a punch?”
“I can take a punch,” he scoffs with a roll of his eyes. “Five guys, possibly members of the Russian mob, versus yours truly, and I’ll have you know I most definitely won. Which means my landlord might send some more after me, but at least my neighbor's furniture's still in her apartment and not the curb.” Laura claps when his explanation is done, and she might be mocking him but it’s in a friendly way so of course he gives a little bow.
“My hero,” she teases, grin almost blinding and he’d kind of like to just bask in it for a second (or maybe forever), but then her eyebrow raises quizzically before he can fully appreciate the moment. “But what was that about a Russian mob?”
“I’m pretty sure that my landlord’s a Russian mob boss.” And that if the guy calls him bro one more he might slug him, but most people think he’s crazy enough with the first comment that he doesn’t include the second. Laura, though, for all her earlier mindfuckery (or maybe just to continue it) doesn’t look at him like he’s lost it.
“I’ll look into it,” she says in the same half-joking, half-serious tone he’s starting to think might be her signature.
“Please do, 007,” he replies with an easy smile because this time he does know she’s joking, and when he finally goes to continue his rounds he offers her a salute before leaving.
When he checks her room later she’s sleeping, looking so much lighter in dreaming than she does awake, and his walk home is spent cursing himself for always falling so quickly. He's lucky, too, though, that he falls out of love just as easily when he finds his patient’s been transferred to some military hospital he’s never heard of. That night he’ll meet a nice, smart boy when his coworkers drag him to the bar and fall, fall, fall so hard that the girl with the knowing eyes is forced to the edges of his consciousness (but never really all the way out).